Gerald Galloway worked for more than 30 years in law enforcement in North Carolina, but in spite of encountering some of the hardest of criminals, he's joining other current and former law enforcement officials to voice concern about the fairness and effectiveness of the death penalty.
The new group, Public Safety Officials on the Death Penalty, seeks to explore alternatives to achieve a more just and effective public safety system. Galloway says condemning someone to death doesn't always result in justice. "When you look at it anecdotally, it looks as if it's a sentence that makes sense," he states. "But if you look at it in a broader perspective in its actual implementation and what it actually delivers, it is about as dysfunctional a sentence as you can give."
Galloway points out that the death penalty is very costly to taxpayers because of multiple trials and hearings, and sometimes people on death row are later determined to be innocent. Supporters of the death penalty say it's still needed for the most serious of crimes. Six people have been executed in Tennessee since 2000.
The death penalty costs Tennessee approximately $11 million annually, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Galloway says one of the biggest factors in his opposition is that death sentences often are never carried out, leaving the family members of victims without closure.
"Most folks who are put on death row will never be put to death, because of the processes it takes for government to actually kill somebody," he explains. "We don't deliver justice to surviving families of victims who wait for years and years and years for something that they've been promised that never occurs."
According to the Tennessee Department of Correction there are 67 people on death row, some of them with convictions dating back to the 1980s.
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